clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Grizzies Remain Cheap, Hardball Xavier Henry For No Reason

Understandably, no fan wants to hear that their owner is cheap, because it's essentially saying their owner doesn't actually want their team to win. Grizzlies fans, I understand your pain, because I know this will hurt.

But there's no way around it: the Grizzlies, and especially owner Michael Heisley, are cheap.

It's not even that they immediately re-signed Rudy Gay in order to avoid having to match a frontloaded contract. It's not even that they decided not to give Ronnie Brewer a qualifying offer (which would allow them to match any offer made to him) because they didn't want to risk being stuck paying Brewer that next season if nobody wanted him. 

It's that they're currently engaged in possibly the most ridiculous contract negotiation I've ever heard about with rookie Xavier Henry. 

Why is it so ridiculous? Unlike in most other sports, the NBA has a system where rookies have a slotted salary based on their draft position. The whole point of the system is to prevent rookies from holding out like this. You can see that scale here

NBA teams can only pay their rookies between 80 percent and 120 percent of those figures, so technically, there is a "negotiation." But because the difference is so small, pretty much every team just pays the player 120 percent of the rookie scale. And why not? The rookie can't do anything to seek his real market value, so it's only fair for the team to throw him a bit of a carrot and give him as much as possible while complying with the rules.

Except that's not how the Grizzlies roll. The Grizzlies have decided they'd rather pay Henry around 80 percent of the scale, and Henry is balking. The official explanation by GM Chris Wallace is that the team wants their rookies to "earn" increases with good play. But that's completely nonsensical. When a rookie signs his rookie-scale contract, he locks in his salary for the next four years (with the final two years being a team option). He doesn't just lock in one year of salary. As well as Xavier Henry plays, there's absolutely no way he can "earn" an increase until his next contract.

So really, the reason this is happening is because the Grizzlies are cheap. They're willing to dig down in the sand and piss off their first-round draft pick over what basically amounts to six-tenths of one percent of their player payroll ($300,000 on a $50 million payroll). That's not fiscal responsibility, that's frugality at it's worst. 

At this point, I'm hoping Henry finds a way out of this deal and onto another team. He deserves better.